Raja: crushed in body but not in spirit

Raja: crushed in body but not in spirit

  • Sudden Conflict
  • Iraq
  • Child Protection
  • Story

April 28, 2020

“It was Friday – the day of prayer. There was fighting and bombs everywhere. I ran from my home, terrified. That’s when a bomb fell beside me.”

At 10 years of age, Raja survived a deadly explosion just feet from her. She was caught in the deadly crossfire between the Iraqi government and occupying ISIL forces in the city of Mosul.

Story continues after "In Short"

In Short

  • More than 2.1 million Iraqis have been displaced by conflict, and hundreds of thousands of civilians like Raja have been injured or killed.
  • Raja was severely injured by a bomb that exploded by her home, which still gives her nightmares.
  • Raja is making great strides in recovery at a World Vision Child-friendly Space.
Raja lost the ability to walk in an airstrike over her city.

Raja lost the ability to walk in an airstrike over her city.

World Vision

“I remember lying on the ground,” she says. “I looked at my hand bleeding. There was blood coming from my stomach.” She lost her hand in the explosion, and even after multiple reconstructive surgeries, her feet and legs are still badly damaged.

She wouldn’t have a wheelchair until many months later. Before then, she had to be carried everywhere. In some ways, her loss of physical independence was just as painful as her injuries.

The care received from World Vision staff is helping Raja work through the trauma.

The care received from World Vision staff is helping Raja work through the trauma.

World Vision

Two years after the city’s liberation, hundreds of child survivors like Raja were still afraid to leave their homes. Urban war zones like Mosul are filled with buildings on the verge of collapse and undetonated explosives. Raja’s house, though damaged by the explosion itself, felt safer than the uncertainty and exposure of the outdoors.

“I didn’t want to leave home, so I stayed inside,” she remembers. “Sometimes I would just sit in the doorway and feel the warmth of the sun on my face.”

Raja loves the activities in World Vision's Child-Friendly Space

Raja loves the activities in World Vision's Child-Friendly Space

World Vision

Raja started her mental and emotional recovery at a Child-friendly Space established by World Vision. She met workers who had experienced many of the same atrocities and cared deeply for kids like her. She started attending psychological counseling with a specialist who focuses on children who’ve lived through combat.

With months of professional care with her case worker, socially constructive activities at the centre, and financial assistance for her family, Raja’s spirit has mended and she’s adjusting to her new body.

“I love singing,” she says, smiling. “I love drawing pictures and painting. I like drawing mountains and rivers…because I want to go to those places.”

Although her home city is in ruins, Raja has her future in mind. “I’d like to be a doctor,” she says. “I want to be like the doctor who helped me, so I can help others too.”

What can I do?

It’s easy to feel helpless in situations like this but rest assured… you, us, everyone, together, can help make life-changing impact. And we are!

Here are two different ways you can be a part of the change.

  1. 1


    Every gift makes a difference. Our Childhood Rescue fund helps children living in the world’s most dangerous places.

  2. 2

    Share on Social Media

    Raising awareness is vital. Help make people aware of the situation and the difference we can make, together.

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2 million

people are displaced

4.1 million

Iraqis are in need of humanitarian aid

The land of Iraq is situated over the historical region of ancient Mesopotamia located between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. This area is referred to as the Cradle of civilisation where mankind began to read, write and create laws.

Ever since US troops invaded Iraq in 2003, various armed groups have been struggling for control.

  • Unpredictable acts of terrorism injure innocent people every day
  • High unemployment and government corruption are persistent problems for the country. Many children are susceptible to trafficking and recruitment as child soldiers
  • 1.9 million children in Iraq are in need of humanitarian need - the equivalent of the population of a city like Brussels or Baltimore.